As a region, Southern Africa comprises formally democratic states, most of which, however, are caught up in political, economic and environmental crises. Some causes are domestic, while others are regional or even global. Historically, the region formed a united front in its struggle for liberation against apartheid in South Africa and Zimbabwe, which entailed armed conflicts particularly in Namibia, Angola and Mozambique that have shaped these countries’ economic, social and democratic development to this very day. In fact, one could argue that they only emerged as truly independent states after the end of apartheid in 1990. Nevertheless, they were soon eclipsed by neoliberalism. Even today, South Africa remains scarred by deep social inequality, while the remaining countries in the region have been similarly unable to overcome poverty and inequality. Under the regimes of privatization and extractivism, the poor and marginalized segments of the population are particularly exposed to severe socio-economic pressures. People’s lives are becoming increasingly precarious. Against this backdrop, the limited opportunities for effective political participation and the states’ repressive responses to protests often spark serious political violence.
The RLS therefore primarily supports partner organizations that embrace a democratic and non-violent political culture and concentrate on addressing issues of social inequality in particular. In this context, we place a special focus on NGOs, research institutions, museums, memorials, trade unions and their affiliated organizations. Our work reaches out to young people, women who are struggling financially, LGBTI* communities and workers in general, along with migrants and stateless persons.
On the islands of the southwest Indian Ocean, the Rosa-Luxemburg-Stiftung focuses on fighting the impacts of climate change. Across the region and on individual islands, the RLS supports alternative approaches to organizing social and environmental movements.
In light of the unique situation in Zimbabwe, the RLS also lends its support to projects that educate, train and consult with domestic and international actors in order to promote the country’s democratic and social development following the end of President Mugabe’s rule.